By Kate McCarthy Bedward of ClassicVolks.com/York Classic VWs & Louise Battey of Dubtricks
Let me start by telling you where the idea for Dubs in’t Dales came from. How we organised our first ever VW Show in just 3 months!
In January this year, Jez Dyke from Dubtricks (a VW restoration company based in Harrogate) attended the first ever CamperMart show in Telford. It was a great show and he came away feeling like he had made some useful contacts, in particular Neil and Gaby from Litesteer who were advertising their new PAS (Power Assisted Steering) system for campervans. Jez was impressed with how well engineered this new product was and as soon as he got back to work he tracked them down on Facebook and Twitter and kept in contact, knowing that it was a product that his customers would love. A couple of months later, Litesteer were recruiting official fitting centres for their power steering system and as soon as Jez spotted this on their website, he contacted Litesteer to see if he could get involved. Litesteer were very enthusiastic and supportive about this, and even suggested that they came up to Yorkshire to hold an open day at Dubtricks.
This is the point at which I got involved in the story. I was sitting quietly in my office one afternoon, minding my own business, (literally in fact, as I was working on my website for ClassicVolks.com), when I got a slightly panicked Facebook message from Jez. He said he needed to organise an open day at short notice and get as many local VW enthusiasts together as possible. His busy workshop was already stacked out with vehicles and with it being spring, it was lambing season on the farm where his workshop is based, which meant that the farmers would not tolerate a large VW gathering on the grounds. Knowing how active and enthusiastic my York club members are, he knew that we would get a good turnout for any event that we organised, so wondered if we could combine the open day with one of our club meets.
Of course I thought it was a great idea, any excuse for a VW gathering, and I knew my club members would think the same. Over the next couple of weeks we talked about where to hold it – we were initially looking for a pub with a big enough car park to accommodate the York club members and lots of the Dubtricks customers. We then thought that because it would be a bit further from York than my usual meetings, a venue with the option for over night camping might be preferable, so started scouting around for a campsite with a pub. Jez asked around local friends and businesses based close to Dubtricks to see if any of them could suggest a good venue, and eventually his friend James, whose family run the local village store, suggested that Nidderdale Showground in Pateley Bridge.
We had not even thought about hiring the showground, as it was far bigger than the sort of venues that we had been considering, but James said they were very supportive of local businesses, and would perhaps do us a good deal if they liked us. It sounded like a perfect location, a lovely flat showground in the middle of a dales village, with all the local shops, pubs and other amenities of Pateley Bridge close at hand, and surrounded by the picturesque rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, so I drove over to Dubtricks and we met at the showground to very tentatively approached the farmer who owns it, taking James with us in the hope that a familiar local face would aid our cause. In actual fact, the showground owner appeared to like the idea of a car show, and before we knew what had happened, we had hired a showground for the weekend of the 9-10 June 2012. On the 10 minute drive through the Dales from Pateley Bridge back to Dubtricks, the slightly scary thought occurred to us that if we were hiring a showground and holding a VW event on it, we had essentially just signed up to organise our first VW show! Before we had even arrived back at Jez’s workshop, our nerves had turned to excitement, and the ideas started flowing. Within that 10 minute drive we had already come up with the name Dubs In the Dales, but Jez and James, both Yorkshire lads, laughingly said that it really had to be Dubs In’t Dales, and the name stuck!
With just over 2 months to the agreed date for the show, the pressure was really on, as if we were going to do this, we wanted to do it right. I set about doing the online advertising, building Facebook and twitter pages, and creating a forum presence for the show, whilst Jez and Lou at Dubtricks worked on designing logos, flyers and banners, organising the show and shine trophies and dealing with the council red tape. Litesteer, who were also very enthusiastic about the show idea, also helped with the publicity side of things, and James, who also plays guitar for local band Under the Gun, offered the band’s services for free and said that he would find us more bands to cover the whole of the Saturday night entertainment. In a constant stream of Facebook and twitter messages, we somehow managed to pull together all the separate elements of the show from our four different locations.
The last few nights were spent driving around the Yorkshire Dales finalising a route for the Saturday evening cruise, and then Jez recruited help from one of his customers, Mick Barker, to go out and put sign posts all the way from A1 to the showground; we didn’t want to leave anything to chance!
Finally we felt like we had done all the preparation we could, and between us all we had considered every possible eventuality and problem that could occur. The only potential pitfall that we could now envisage, and the one factor that we had absolutely no control over, was the weather. Depressingly for the week leading up to the show, we had seen nothing but rain, and despite obsessively watching the weather forecasts and hoping for some positive news, but it was all looking pretty gloomy with no suggestion of a significant improvement before the weekend. However on the Friday afternoon a slightly more optimistic forecast popped up on the BBC website and a brief brake in the clouds and a chink of sunshine across the Yorkshire Dales gave us a faint hope that the weather might just be kind to us!
Before we new it, the Friday night before the show was upon us and there was nothing more we could do!
My husband Kevin and I drove over to Pateley Bridge late on Friday evening so that we could be ready at the showground in plenty of time to set up and get organised on Saturday morning. We set our tent up on the eerily empty showground at dusk and in a light drizzle of rain, and prayed that the weather would improve before morning.
We then took the short walk into the town of Pateley Bridge where we met up with Jez and Lou from Dubtricks and Neil and Gaby from Litesteer for one final pre-show pint and to run through of the following mornings events. The nerves and excitement were apparent as we quickly ran through everything we needed to do the next day. Our biggest hope was that 48 hours on from this moment we would be gathered together again in the same pub toasting the success of our first ever show and knowing that after all the hard work of the last few months, we had actually done it! With that thought in our minds, we all returned to our beds for a good nights sleep.
On Saturday morning I awoke very excited at around 6:30am and peeked outside the tent to see the glorious sight of a clear sky and bright sunshine! I cooked some bacon and eggs on toast to make sure we’d had a decent breakfast, as I had no idea when we would get chance to eat again that day. At just 7:15am the first of the traders called to say they had already arrived, so we broke off breakfast to get them set up and were thankful that we had camped the night on the showground if traders were going to arrive as early as this.
Jez and Lou and the Dubtricks team then arrived to start putting up event shelters and banners, closely followed by Litesteer and then a steady stream of traders.
Although we had said that the gates opened at noon, people started to arrive at around 10:30, obviously wanting to get a good camping spot, and since most of the traders were already set up, we decided to let them come in early.
Unfortunately the bright sunshine I had woken up to that morning didn’t last all day, and the weather was very on and off throughout the duration of Saturday, a proper mix of sunshine and showers, but to our immense relief there was no heavy rain. When the sun came out it was actually very warm and the grass started to dry out a little.
At 5:30pm we had 35 VWs lined up ready to go on our Dales Cruise, an 18km drive around the beautiful local scenery. The turnout for the cruise was much bigger than we had anticipated (possibly thanks to some enthusiastic rounding-up by Dubtricks customer Jake ‘Sooty’ Shuttleworth!) Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn for the worse again and it was very misty across the hilltops, meaning visibility wasn’t particularly good, and the stunning views we had planned all went unseen! The clouds did make for some fantastic dubs-in-the-mist photos though, so not all was lost. After a photo stop at Coldstone Cut, an old quarry on top nearby Greenhow Hill, the convoy returned via a last pit stop off at The Bridge Inn, and we were extremely pleased to hear that everyone had enjoyed it, despite the weather!
The last of the convoy arrived back at the showground at 7pm, just in time for the fantastic music line up – all up-and-coming local bands and all excellent! By this time our bar had also arrived, kindly provided by the Yorkshire Based Black Sheep Brewery, so we were all set up for the night’s entertainment. The evening went exceptionally well, with everyone drinking, dancing and singing along; the atmosphere was lovely. Rob Newman of Dubtricks was roped into announcing the bands and was enjoying being on stage and warming up the crowds so much, that at one point we feared we would not be able to get the microphone back off him! A good night was had by all with many people coming up to us saying what a fantastic time they were having, and asking if we would be doing it again next year. We went to bed happy in the knowledge that Day One had been a success, now we just had to get through Day Two!
We awoke nice and early again on the Sunday and grabbed a bacon and egg butty from our food trader who had been up cooking bacon since 7am! The night had passed by very peacefully with all going quiet at around 2:30am and no disturbances from any of the campers – we were very impressed! Sunday was the big day and we had no idea just how fantastic it was going to be!
We told people to have their dubs polished and in the Show & Shine area by midday, but some were so keen that they were parked up and ready before 10am! A steady stream of day visitors flowed through the gates all day, and the show and shine field quickly filled up. As you can see from the pictures we had the campervans lined up on one side, then Beetles along the top end and then water-cooled along the other side. We were astounded by not only the turnout but also by the quality of the vehicles that had entered and we had a feeling that the fabulous turnout might be in part due to the generous prizes offered by Show & Shine sponsors, Swissvax UK. I knew at this point how pleased I was not to be involved in the judging – it would have been far too difficult! Luckily we had already decided that it would be inappropriate for myself or anyone from Dubtricks to be involved in the judging as we wanted our own customers and club members to be able to enter, so for judges we recruited Stuart and Myles from Swissvax UK, who were judging on the quality of paintwork and detailing and also Elderspook from Airkooled Kustoms, all the way across the pond in the USA – who was judging via the internet. This added an extra element of work for Kevin and I because we were busy posting photos of each vehicle from all different angles and answering questions posed by Eric (AKA ElderSpook) about the vehicles and owners and what work had been done on each. Between Swissvax UK and Airkooled Kustoms the winners were finally decided, although it was a very tough decision.
The sun shone on Sunday, and the chilled out, happy atmosphere was added to when my husband Kevin Bedward came up with the idea of setting up a PA system with music and announcements throughout the day about what was happening and what the traders were doing. His laid back Jamaican accent was perfect for the job and I think Kevin is now thinking of a career change having been bombarded by compliments on his microphone voice – so, listen out for Kevin Bedward DJ coming to a radio station near you soon!
At 3pm, just as some dark clouds were starting to gather over the showground, we announced the very happy show and shine winners, who each received a lovely Dubs in’t Dales glass trophy and some fantastic car cleaning products from the excellent Swissvax UK!
By 4pm the showground was almost empty and it was time to clear up. The members of York Classic VWs were very kind and stayed behind to help us collect all the rubbish bags together from the camping area, whilst Dubtricks customers helped to tidy the show area. I have to say however, how impressed I was with the tidiness of our campers, who all left their rubbish neatly tied up in bin bags. I would like to say not only a massive thank your to my club members and Dubtricks customers for helping but also to all those who camped for being so tidy and respectful of the showground!
As we put away the last of the rubbish bags, the rain started with a vengeance, but for the first time in many weeks, we could not have cared less what the weather did! The show had been a success and everyone was safely and happily driving home. The weather could now do whatever it liked!
Tidying done, Kevin and I returned to the pub in Pateley Bridge with Jez and Lou of Dubtricks and Neil and Gaby of Litesteer for that post-show drink we had promised ourselves. Exhausted but happy, we all agreed that the show had been a resounding success. ‘We did it!’ was the first toast we raised…closely followed by ‘Here’s to Dubs In’t Dales 2013!’
After so much positive feedback and so many requests over the course of the weekend, there was no doubt in our minds that we would do it again next year. We started planning there and then, but we knew that with a whole year to plan and advertise, that our next show would be much bigger and better!
I would like to again say a massive thank you to all who came – both traders, campers and day visitor – we have had some amazing feedback from people and we are so glad you all had such a great time! We look forward to seeing you all again at Dubs In’t Dales 2013.